Networking 2.0 – 5 Clever Upgrades For Old-School Networking Strategies
There are two common responses to rapid changes in the workplace – “out with the old, in with the new” or a stubborn refusal to let go of long-standing processes. Those who truly thrive are the ones who find a middle way. They’re open to adopting new ideas while still seeing value in the old. Here are five ways these innovative thinkers are working old-school networking techniques into modern life.
1. Be generous
In the digital era, many people have given up on sending thank you notes and gifts. However, a well-timed corporate gift can lead to a valuable partnership with someone who otherwise would have forgotten you. The key is to go for top-quality corporate promotional products that show off your brand while offering genuine practical value to the recipient. Plan your gifts well, and this old-school maneuver can open a lot of doors for you.
2. Take advantage of mentorship
Many people mistakenly think of mentorship as a one-way street in which an established person imparts their wisdom to a newbie while receiving nothing in return. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Mentor-mentee relationships are mutually beneficial. They allow people to bring new ideas and established ones together, finding value in both, seeing how they mix, and gaining new perspectives and fresh ideas. The best part is, at most points in your career you’ll be able to find both an amazing business mentor and someone to offer mentorship to, allowing you to take advantage of both sides of the relationship.
3. Be direct
Over the years, many people have allowed softening phrases, vagueness, and built-in exit strategies to weaken their dialogue. “Maybe,” “sort of,” “if you don’t mind,” “if it’s not too much trouble,” “let’s catch up when you have time” – terms and phrases like these feel polite and safe because you’re not pinning the person to anything. However, they come across as weak and devoid of intention. The recipient can’t see what you want, so it’s easy to just brush your message aside.
Instead of hiding behind soft phraseology, invoke the gutsy attitude of a 1950s sales executive, and be direct. Don’t mistake rudeness for directness, but do cut out any words that don’t add meaning. This will allow you to be clear in communicating what you’re offering or asking for.
4. Do your research
In the fast-paced digital era, it’s easy to be lazy and assume you can fit in a bit of research on your commute to a networking event or in the half-hour before a Zoom meeting. Though you may be able to scrape by with this, you’ll be better served if you use the internet in the way people once used the library.
For example, knowing a few details about the career path of a CEO you’ll be meeting at a conference is one thing, but knowing which deal they see as their defining moment, and having your own views on why it was important will make a lasting impression.
5. A new way to socialize
Networking outside of your office or industry is a wise idea. However, it can be easier said than done; particularly in the era of remote working and social distancing. Happy hour drinks and industry events have now been replaced by the networking opportunities offered by serviced offices. These coworking spaces allow you to meet people from all walks of life, opening up surprising opportunities for collaboration.
Though it’s important to be ahead of the curve with new networking trends, that doesn’t mean you have to ditch all the old-school ideas. Follow the tips above to give them the modern upgrades they need.